Motion control running shoes prevent injuries in some

(Reuters Health) - Runners with flat feet or whose feet roll inward may want to invest in running shoes with motion control to help prevent injuries, according to a study from Luxembourg.

Running shoes with motion control features reduced injuries by about half, but that benefit was limited to runners whose feet rolled inward, which is typical for people with flat feet.

“Our study is the first to compare shoe models with and without motion control system in regular runners with the aim to investigate their impact on injury risk,” said lead author Laurent Malisoux, of the Luxembourg Institute of Health.

Motion control limits the foot’s natural roll when it strikes the ground.

The technical term for that natural roll is “pronation.” Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls too far inward, and is most common among people with low arches or flat feet.

As reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers randomly assigned 386 recreational runners between ages 18 and 65 to wear either normal running shoes or the same shoes with motion control for up to six months.

The shoes with motion control featured a rigid piece of plastic near the middle and a harder piece of foam on the inward side of the sole.

Between June and December 2014, the 372 runners in the study completed 12,558 runs, covering a total distance of 116,723 kilometers (about 72,528 miles) over 12,094 hours.

Overall, a quarter of the runners had an injury during the study. About 32 percent of participants with regular shoes were injured, compared to about 18 percent of those with motion control shoes.

“This seems to indicate that, in general, a minimal amount of motion control is better than no motion control at all in our modern cushioned shoes,” said Malisoux, in an email.

But when the researchers looked at the data by foot type, they found the benefit was confined to those whose feet rolled too far inward. Those people were more likely to be injured when wearing normal running shoes, too.

“If you don’t fall into that category, you likely won’t benefit and you don’t need motion control shoes,” said Dr. Rahul Kapur, an expert in sports medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

People with normal pronation “should go with something more neutral or something more cushiony as opposed to a motion control shoe,” said Kapur, who was not involved with the new study.

For example, a person with a naturally high arch would not benefit from arch support and motion control when their foot naturally does that for them, he said.

Malisoux cautioned that the findings might not be applicable to all models or brands of running shoes.

Kapur also said individuals wanting to know if their feet overpronate would need to be evaluated by a physical therapist or specialist.

SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, online January 8, 2016.